Knee Airbag Supplemental Restraint Systems

SUBJECT: Knee Airbag Supplemental Restraint Systems TOPIC: Knee Airbag 2004 Model Year Update OBJECTIVE: Identify the various designs, locations, and function of knee airbag systems available in vehicles...


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The 2004 Lexus RX 330 vehicle is an excellent example of how knee air bags are being integrated into a vehicle’s total crash protection system. The RX’s safety systems include a driver’s multi-stage airbag that deploys at one of three speeds depending on many factors, including crash severity and seat track position. Similarly, the front-passenger dual-stage airbag uses weight and crash-severity sensors to monitor its deployment. For side impacts, there are seat-mounted side-impact airbags for front occupants.

There are also roof-mounted side-impact airbags along with the new driver’s knee airbag. In addition, if either frontal airbag deploys, seatbelt pre-tensioners fire to remove slack from the seatbelt system as the vehicle’s Automatic Collision Notification system engages the Lexus Tele Aid SOS telemetry system.

Ron Moore will present “Ron Moore’s Top 10 Vehicle Rescue Challenges” and “Safe Parking” at Firehouse Expo 2004 in Baltimore, July 13-18.

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Photo By Ron Moore

The blow-out panel for passenger knee bag on this BMW Z4 convertible shows its location above the glove compartment. The passenger frontal airbag is “hidden” inside the instrument panel, where the airbag sticker is located.

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Photo By Ron Moore

You can barely see the blow-out panel for the driver’s knee airbag on this 2004 Mercedes SL-Class automobile. The airbag ID is visible if you look through the bottom of the steering wheel.

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Photo By Ron Moore

A low-angle view shows the driver’s knee airbag blow-out panel and the small airbag ID.

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Photo By Ron Moore

If you are standing up at the open driver’s door of this 2004 Lexus RX 330, you may not realize that there is an undeployed driver’s knee airbag as well as a passenger knee airbag. Even the passenger’s frontal airbag is a “hidden” design with no blow-out panel.

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Photo By Ron Moore

By kneeling down, a rescuer may be able to “eyeball” the driver’s knee airbag blow-out panel on this dual knee airbag system. With a patient in the driver’s seat and at night, this knee airbag would be even harder to spot.

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Photo By Ron Moore

Believe it or not, a driver’s knee airbag is concealed behind the horseshoe-shaped panel under the steering column on this 2004 Audi A8L.

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Photo By Ron Moore

This sticker appears next to the passenger’s front door hinge. It depicts how the knee airbag deploys downward to completely fill the floorboard area on this Audi A8L knee airbag system.

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Photo By Ron Moore

The passenger’s knee airbag on this 2004 Audi A8L is located below the huge glove compartment and is hard to see unless you kneel down to inspect the lower dash area.

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Photo By Ron Moore

The driver’s knee airbag on the Chrysler Pacifica is housed behind the knee bolster plastic trim. Leg injury measures during this crash testing were low, but not lower than in many vehicles with conventional bolsters.

Ron Moore, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a battalion chief and the training officer for the McKinney, TX, Fire Department. He also authors a monthly online article in the Firehouse.com “MembersZone” and serves as the Forum Moderator for the extrication section of the Firehouse.com website. Moore can be contacted directly at Rmoore@firehouse.com.